Summer, having slacked off for weeks, now digs in for a hot spell, lest we think we can let down our guard and relax into thoughts of cool autumn mornings. That would be too easy.
But we live in hope, and even in recent days I’ve seen a few leaves turning and falling. September is upon us, and we all know that 15 minutes from Labor Day to Christmas won’t be enough to fit in everything we’ve already jammed into the busiest time of the year.
Why do we do that?
October is the single best reason to live and play in Missouri, and yet the time from the start of school to the holidays seems the one most full of overcommitments. The days grow shorter, and we grow busier.
Maybe it’s in nature itself. Around Christmas, the short days begin to lengthen, sustaining us through bleak winter and warming spring. By June, the days are luxuriously long. We are fat and happy and, as is inherent in that condition, we do not realize it.
We swelter through summer and perhaps quietly welcome the shortening of days because it means a slghtly longer, cooler night. How foolish and wasteful. By October, the noticeable shortening of days adds to the bittersweetness of harvest season, itself a half-forgotten thing.
Harvest traditionally means work, then rest, reflection and gratitude. Savor what’s left of the day, left of the year. But we never rest any more. We report to our cubicles to stare deeply into computer screens and tap away, working, working, working. Sun up, sun gone – doesn’t matter.
Aesop’s grasshopper, who sang all summer while the thrifty ant worked, came to regret it come cold, hungry winter, and when he asked for help, he got a lecture instead. Fair enough, but apparently all the ant got out of it was a full stomach and the shrunken soul of the town scold. That’s a rude bargain for all that work. Give the grasshopper his due.
Seasons change, and one looks back on what’s gotten done. Oh, plenty. Work and church and Scout camp and more work and, OK, the lawn looks presentable, though no better.
But the list of things not done grows. I have not once this year made my famous potato salad. Nor caught one trout. Nor seen the Royals win more than about four games.
I had a pastor once who said he wished for us in his congregation the blessing of full calendars, and his point is well taken – but it’s a mixed blessing. I do not understand the young when they say they’re bored. I don’t see how that’s even possible, and I pity them. I guess soon enough they’ll have jobs and mortages and too many people making demands of their time.
The nature of adults is to worry that they’ll turn out to be grasshoppers. Most of them don’t. But there’s no need to be in a rush to become the next ant in the line.
Follow Jeff Fox on Twitter @FoxEJC or @Jeff_Fox.